Dangerous in Diamonds, by Madeline Hunter

>> Saturday, June 15, 2013

TITLE: Dangerous in Diamonds
AUTHOR: Madeline Hunter

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Early 19th century England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 4th in the Rarest Blooms series

When the outrageously wealthy Duke of Castleford is bequeathed a small piece of property that houses a modest flower shop, he encounters its owner, the mysterious Daphne Joyes-a budding rose who quickly becomes the object of his seduction.


This is the last book in a quartet, and it's been quite a while since I read book 3. I really liked the first three books, but what I saw in them of this book's hero, the Duke of Castleford, didn't make me want to read about him. In fact, I took against completely. I found him sleazy, and resented what I perceived to be an authorial intention that I was supposed to find his constant whoring manly and sexy and his constant drunkenness simply a symptom of having been hurt in some way.

So yeah, I didn't start this book expecting the best from him. I don't hate-read; I picked it up because I was hoping Hunter would be able to turn this around and make me root for him (and several people had told me she did). She didn't, at least not in the first third, which was as far as I managed to drag myself.

The basic setup is that Castleford inherits a group of properties from a distant relative, a moralistic bore of a man. In a private letter attached to the will, the relative asks him to discreetly ensure that the arrangement with the tenants continue. Smelling something fishy, Castleford decides to visit those properties, and as soon as he gets to the first one, he thinks he understands.

The tenant is none other than Daphne Joyes, the beautiful woman his friends from the first three books have made sure he never met. She has turned the house's gardens into a successful flower business, and this has allowed her to offer refuge to women in all sorts of trouble (such as all three previous heroines). Castleford remembers Daphne was once a governess at his relative's household, so obviously, she must be the man's discarded mistress. And since she was clearly seduced once, he decides he's going to seduce her as well, whether she wants him to or not.

So, as you might imagine, things didn't start well. Right from the start, Castleford behaves like a complete and utter arsehole, and with quite a bit of cruelty. He *knows* Daphne depends on her flower business for her living, and yet he threatens it and keeps her hanging about what he's going to do about it, even when she specifically begs him to just make a decision. And why? Oh, just because he wants to maneouver her into staying in London for a period, so he can seduce her. Fucking waste of space bastard.

And stupid Daphne is one of those heroines who melts whenever the hero touches her, even when he's being completely inappropriate and scary and any sensible woman would feel sexually threatened. This just feels old-fashioned to me these days. I always hated it, and I wish it would go away.

I read about a third of the book and decided I couldn't be bothered with these two. To be clear, it wasn't so much the kinds of characters these were, it was the execution. I can cope with all sorts of assholic behaviour, as long as there's an awareness in the narrative that the behaviour is assholic (I adore Gaffney's To Have And To Hold, for instance, and Castleford is a nice little boy compared to how Sebastian is at the beginning of his book). It was that awareness that was lacking here. There was this 'isn't he hawt!!!' tone underlying the descriptions of Castleford and his behaviour, and it made my brain keep screaming 'no, he fucking isn't'. Much too distracting.



Susan/DC,  21 June 2013 at 17:04  

I finished the book but had some of the same criticisms you did. Castleton has moments of self-awareness that made him more palatable to me (as when he thinks that he keeps himself drunk and surrounded by others precisely because then he does not have to confront what an ass he is) and he does shape up as the book goes on. Daphne, however, is exactly the kind of heroine I abhor, one who succumbs immediately to the hero even when she knows she should not. Her own experiences and the rules of her society should have provided a safe barrier against such open seduction as she clearly knows the possible ramifications. When the secrets from her past are revealed, her actions seem even more foolish and unbelievable. It's probably good the book was a DNF for you.

Rosario 26 June 2013 at 06:42  

It does sound like the right decision! If there were even more reasons why she should have been resisting (or at least trying -she doesn't even think of doing it!), then it would have driven me mad. It's a bit of a shame, though, because the political background that Hunter seemed to be setting up sounded intriguing. She's always very good at that.

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